Crappy YouTube trailer leads to death of US diplomat and others in Mideast

Update: The whole thing sounds like a weird disinfo job. But, by whom and to what end? The AP has outed "Sam Bacile" as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian who claims the film supports the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims. On The Media notes that there's something fishy about the film dialogue. And Gawker has spoken to one of the actresses in the film, who says she had no idea what the film was really about.

The Associated Press identifies Sam Bacile as an Israeli filmmaker based in California who made an independently produced and financed anti-Muslim movie that's sort of "Birth of a Nation" meets "Bed Intruder." The YouTube trailer is embedded above, and it unapologetically attacks Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Bacile has no known prior history as a filmmaker.

His D-grade web trailer inspired (or, alternately, was used as cover for) attacks by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. J Christopher Stevens, America's ambassador to Libya, and three American members of his staff were killed today in resulting violence.

From the Associated Press:

Speaking by phone Tuesday from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion. Protesters angered over Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.

Bacile is a real estate developer in California who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew. “Islam is a cancer, period,” he told the AP. The video above is a trailer for his two-hour movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” which cost $5 million to produce and was, according to the director, backed by funding from 100 Jewish donors. There's an English version and an Arabic-dubbed version of the trailer here. Bacile reports that the entire film has been shown "once, to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood earlier this year."

Here is a list of other ambassadors who have died in the line of duty. Here is a Reuters slideshow of protesters outside the embassy in Libya.

Here, a longtime real-life and internet-space friend of Sean Smith, an officer in the U.S. Foreign Service stationed at the consulate writes about his life, legacy, and loss. Sean Smith was an EVE player and Something Awful forums moderator.

I’m clearly in shock as I write this as everything is buzzing around my head funnily and I feel kind of dead inside. I’m not sure if this is how I’m supposed to react to my friend being killed by a mob in a post-revolutionary Libya, but it’s pretty awful and Sean was a great guy and he was a goddamned master at this game we all play, even though a lot of people may not realize how significant an influence he had. It seems kind of trivial to praise a husband, father, and overall badass for his skills in an internet spaceship game but that's how most of us know him, so there you go.

Here's a thread at Something Awful that chronicles the live board reaction as news of Smith's death in the attack spread.

Below, via the Atlantic, a video of Ambassador Stevens at work

More: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims."


  1. The video is certainly sick, vile and racist… but killing a US diplomat and three others is not the appropriate response. Clearly the message here is that all religious extremists, regardless of their invisible man of choice, are poisoning the world.

      1. Beware teh fallen Angelhair: Dr. SatAkins and his anti-pasta diet.

        But who makes a 13minute long trailer? They totally gave the plot away.

      2. A fundamentalist Pastafarian can be seen with a great  Flying Spaghetti Monster wallpaper on his or her PC/mobile phone. 
        A fundamentalist Jain is often seen sweeping in front of themselves to prevent the destruction of life.  

        Fundamentalism depends on your (often irrational) belief.

    1. Personally, I’m not going to watch the video, but don’t these people possibly see it as a problem when they retaliate in such a way that makes these videos seem true?  If you’re gonna do something about it, don’t give people more ammunition to use against you by doing something stupid, use the video against them as propaganda and show that it is they who do this stuff, rather than kill people because your feelings were hurt.  This reminds me of those posters I’ve seen people holding saying stuff like “Behead those who say Islam is violent,” and they apparently think that message itself isn’t.

      1. They don’t see it because that’s the world they live in, it’s a world we can’t possibly fathom. Peaceful Muslims live just fine in the modern world and rightfully condemn the attacks from Islamic extremists, because they have the context of a civilized culture.

        Not that civilized people don’t live in that culture as well, but their voice is drowned out by pure insanity.

        1.  I’m sorry.  I just don’t buy this “clash of civilizations” argument… all kinds of people are stupid, violent and irrational, even in “rational and civilized” places. It’s just not religion.  People can be irrational about all sorts of things. Eugenics for example. People still buy into that shit as a “rational and scientific” explanation for inequality.

          1. All kinds of people are violent and irrational, but they don’t have an entire nation of like-minded people. 

            Take technology, education, wealth and equal rights away from America and the same type of society would emerge. At least that’s what every zombie movie has told me.

          2.  Sory for the reply here… it cuts off the reply button… :-(

            Do you know what every single person in Egypt/Libya is thinking, doing, blaming?  And what about our policies in the region? It’s not like this event is singular.

            I take you you are not either an extreme libertarian or an anarchists and you agree that we need “civilization” to keep us from killing each other (so it’s either the Hobbes or Locke argument for you).  I’m not being snarky in that last comment, just curious.

          3. @boingboing-88bade49e98db8790df275fcebb37a13:disqus Obviously, that’s why I said that there are conflicting opinions in the region, but the loudest and most violent overpower them. 
            These are impoverished people that are locked into the region and cut off from the rest of the world. Without education and wealth, thugs take over who rule through power. 

            If the region had our resources, the savage element would be pushed aside. Just as if our resources were removed, the savage element would move in. 

            And for the record, I’m a pretty far-left liberal.

          4. Mindysan, most libertarians and anarchists that I know think that civilization is a good thing, which encourages cooperation and discourages violence, and that government is a violent interference with civilization.  And a lot of the anger we’re seeing in Egypt and the Muslim world in general has been either because of local repressive governments or because of Western colonialism which has  been attacking them for a long time.

          5.  Razor – I don’t agree that we aren’t savage, actually.  There are people here who see no problem with taking resources away from others because they are poor and just aren’t working hard enough (never mind that the only jobs are low wage jobs with no future).  Let’s not forget torture or that we have one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world…  Look at the BS with the market crash. Millions lost their nest eggs and their homes and no one got called out for it.  There are different kinds of savagery if you ask me, and killing a guy in an embassy is just one of them.

            And do you have any idea of the vast wealth that exists and is horded by a small number of elites in the region? And those tend to be our allies.  The Saudis regularly pay off the Sunni middle class and ruthlessly suppress the minority Shia and other religions (with Western guest workers living in pamper compounds). And we back it all so they won’t turn off the spigot and cause a spike in gas prices.

            And for the parts of the region that doesn’t have those resources, I’m sure it has nothing to do with years of colonial rule and then years of us backing ruthless dictators so that a socialist god forbid doesn’t come into power.  If the Islamists are winning in elections there, it might be because they are the only groups that have been allowed to operate even marginally and because they actually listen to the people in the streets and act like they care about their concerns…

          6. @BillStewart2012:disqus ,

            So most Libertarians are somewhat ahistorical?
            From Sumer to today, civilization has always had political leaders and social strata, whether that’s a chief, king, or president, you can’t really divorce the two.

          7. Billstewart that’s not my point – I’m well aware of what positions anarchists and libertarians take.  I was taking the positon that clearly, Razor feels that we need government in order to create civilization – it’s the classic liberal (John Locke social contract argument). I agree that anarchists and libertarians feel we don’t need government in order to have civilization – or at least the bare minimum of it.

            Also, what Navin said down below there….

      2. These are the guys who have undoubtedly had friends disappear, dragged off to secret basements to have their balls electrocuted and their fingers twisted off by Gadaffi’s secret police and CIA agents on a ride along.

        So yeah, they’re down with burning a US embassy.

        1. Arguably, that makes it worse: Burning down a US embassy because the US has a ‘fuck’em, and keep the black gold flowing’ foreign policy that happened to hit you personally would be overwhelmingly more upstanding than not burning down an embassy despite that, and then flipping out and burning down an embassy because some nth-string loser made a video you didn’t like…

          There is a case to be made (quite strong in some places) that America’s foreign policy hatchet-men are really asking for it. However, inflammatory internet posting by random private citizens half a world away isn’t exactly a terribly cogent thing to attack them for…

          1. A couple points here:

            A) This story is developing, and being massaged by the US State Department. There are a lot of conflicting stories about how the ambassador died right now, and who was responsible. Also, the US media angle is that the youtube video is to blame for all of it. US media is pretty bad at Ayrab stories.

            B) It’s quite common for dumb things to be the flashpoint for mob actions. For whatever reason, humans like focusing on these little controversies to represent a larger issue. Look at the Chick-fil-A thing.

        2. I always find it ironic when inveterate racists get offed by their ethnicity of choice. 

          And OMG. A link to SomethingAwful? I smell snowballing meme.

      3. There is something about extremism that just kills your ability to perceive irony. I’m not sure why.

        In lower doses, the effect can be observed by comparing humor products aimed at domestic liberal and conservative audiences. At higher doses, it generally makes its own headlines.

    2. I don’t know, shit made me want to blow something up not for religion, but just cause it sucks so bad.

      1. I take that back, this is the most insanely awesome video ever.  Everyone should watch, if for nothing else but the magnitude of fake beardliness.

        1. This news just came out, and must have enraged many people in the crowd:

          I won’t get too in to debating US foreign policy. Personally I think the US flipped on Gadaffi because he was no longer a useful puppet. So, the intervention was aimed at controlling the uprising in order to have a pro-American government at the end. This has been a consistent pattern of US imperialism over the last hundred or so years.But whatever your opinions of it are, you can’t torture and murder these people and back a dictator, and not accept someone to want to kill you back. Sorry.

          1. U.S. Imperialism? We are throwing around the “isms” now? So when the U.S marched into Europe in WWII what “ism” was that?  And which squeaky clean Utopian country with a parliament of angels presiding over it do you hail from or look to with longing ?

          2. Have you failed to read any political analysis in the last century that didn’t come from the US government or its client states? We regularly topple regimes to protect our economic interests, particularly those involving oil.

      1.  And we should make a video of people hugging Muslims set to “America the Beautiful”.  Make sure it gets more views than the crappy racist video.  Proportionate response all around.

    3. I’m not sure I can parse that.

      Are you saying that only those religious extremists who believe in invisible men are poisoning the world?   Or are you giving an axiom by implication, that all religious extremists believe in invisible men?

      I can probably agree with either statement, personally, I’m just wondering which one you meant.

      1. I’m of the mindset that you can believe in whatever invisible man you want, but the minute you start using that belief to infringe on the rights of others, you’re an extremist poisoning the well.

          1. No one kills in the name of Karl Marx. Now, you may be referencing murderous dictators that often get lumped in when pot-stirrers try to say Hitler and Stalin killed people in the name of atheism, but that’s not quite accurate.

            Usually in “godless” nations, the leader is the god. The oppressed people aren’t worshiping atheism, they’re worshiping the dictator. Just look at North Korea, Kim Jong-Il was God to them.

  2. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.

    There is only our natural world.

    Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

  3. I’m a bit upset that you’d even dare compare the truly inspired “bed intruder” to this travesty. 

    On another note…are these actors in “brown face?” 

    The real travesty here is that someone would have to actually sit through 2 hours of this. I’d rather watch a week long marathon of Swayze films.

    1. I don’t see any evidence that anybody actually HAS sat through all 2 hours.  I certainly lasted about one minute.

      I get the impression the director feels no remorse for the deaths he caused.  And that is more important than all the snark we can muster.

        1. Yes, I really do.  I’m really really tired of our ectremists throwing matches into their extremists’ gasoline.  WTF did he think was going to happen?

          1. And I’m tired of watching people who can’t take any dissent with a grain of salt engage in violence at the drop of a hat, while those in the West get all self-righteous about how ‘we shouldn’t have pissed those guys off”. The choice ultimately rests with those murdering and destroying rather than externally.

      1. Sorry, but that’s pretty stupid. The director might be maligned for causing these deaths if his awful, inflammatory movie had been called “Go Kill US Diplomat J Christopher Stevens and 3 Members Of His Staff”.

        …which it was not. It was a stupid, amateurish piece of crap that’s just as dumb and degrading as some of the anti-catholic art that gets churned out around the world.

        It’d be inspiring to see our rights defended no matter how offensive they might be to the mob, rather than spineless pandering to people who threaten violence unless those rights are abridged.  

        1. Can’t we all just agree that the director is an asshole and the rioters are assholes too? Do we really have to assign any blame to anybody once we’ve established the assholery of both groups? It’s elementary chemistry really: Combine asshole with more asshole and you get an explosion. At some point we have start being more responsible with the way we package and store our assholes so that they don’t come into contact with each other. Or maybe we should just try to reduce the quantity of asshole we have on hand at any one time.

        2.  The director had a RIGHT to do what he did, no question.

          Should he have made that hateful piece of garbage? No.

          Should he have known that putting it YouTube it would likely inspire some crazy people to commit violence? Yes.

          So, yes, the director was well within his rights. But he’s still a big, slimy piece of fecal matter.

          1. In some contexts, incitement to violence is itself a crime.

            Not this one.  Suppose a hardline sect of Scientologists sets fire to Paul Thomas Anderson’s garage after The Master makes a bucket of money this weekend (assuming it does), and suppose that fire spreads to his next-door neighbor’s house and kills the housekeeper.  Would that be Anderson’s fault, simply because the Scientologists may have earned a reputation for touchiness when it comes to their treatment in the media?  Of course not.  Whether or not any Scientologists revere the memory of L. Ron Hubbard more or less than some Muslims revere Muhammad, it’s dangerous to argue that some topics or personages are off-limits to artistic representation (even if the art itself is of questionable quality or worse) simply because someone might get offended.

    2. Yes, they are in brown face because people who make films like this don’t see Muslims/arabs as real people and so it’s not racist when you do brown face to play a muslim/arab… 

      Oh my head.

  4. Jews/Muslims/Christians still can’t figure out how to worship the same invisible gawd, get pouty about youTube trolls, commence/continue slaying of selves. Clearly, the only solution is for the US to become as involved as possible in the Mid-East!

    1.  Except that they have done so, in numerous places historically for years and years and years.  While there are plenty of examples of religious violence between the 3 groups, there are also plenty of examples of peaceful co-existence, inter-marriage and cooperation between them as well.  I’d argue it tends to be other outside forces that end up fomenting such violence in the first place.  I’m not saying that religion can’t be a factor, but that it tends not to be the only factor… 

  5. I fail to understand how Judaism is any less a cancer than Islam.  While I tend to be somewhat antagonistic towards those that are childishly sensitive about religious issues, I cannot imagine what I would do if I had published something on the web that resulted in the death of another person.  I’ll take responsibility for what I do, and probably be giving zealots the finger while I do, but it would be terrible to make someone else pay such a high price, or any price at all.

    1. The “cancer” metaphor is valid in exactly one respect: just as with cancers, there are “benign” and “malignant” forms of Islam.  There are also “benign” and “malignant” forms of Christianity, so to the extent that the metaphor works, it seems to apply to Christianity as well.

      1. I think it applies to all religion.  I stated only judaism because the director of the video, who called islam a cancer, is jewish.

        Also, your declaration that the metaphor is valid in “exactly one respect” is too much of a definitive statement, probably made as the result of an emotional response. Benign or malignant, cancer is not a good thing, unless it, in some way, aids the functioning of an organism. According to current medical knowledge, it doesn’t.

        1. Also, your declaration that the metaphor is valid in “exactly one respect” is too much of a definitive statement, probably made as the result of an emotional response.

          Think about this seriously for a second. My post suggests that I think “religion X is a cancer” is an overly-emotional reactionary statement. In other words, I’m not the one reacting emotionally. In fact, it wouldn’t make sense for me to do so because I’m actually pretty anti-religious; it certainly doesn’t offend me when people say bad things about religion. I say a lot of bad things about religion myself.

          What happened was that I expressed my opinion without prefacing it with “in my opinion.” I did this because I think doing so is redundant. If I say something it is the case it is obviously just my opinion that it is the case.

          So you have it completely backwards. The insistence “religion X is a cancer” is the emotional reaction. My response was to try to see how the metaphor might actually make sense, and I could see only one sense in which it does.

          Cancer is not a good thing, but it is usually not a bad thing either. Your body and mine are right now at this moment riddled with benign tumors. This is irrelevant to whether “cancer” is an appropriate metaphor for religion.

          May I ask why you assumed mine was an emotional reaction? I don’t think there’s really any evidence in my comment of strong emotions. It seems like a kind of dirty rhetorical tactic to me.

    2.  I had thought, at one time, that religion was a cancer.  Then I realized I was thinking like the extremist.

      I have to respect the fact that a majority of the world believes in some form of afterlife, even if I may have my doubts.  Some people believe in string theory, multiple realities, and alien lifeforms visiting Earth, but they’re still unproven theories… till they’re proven.. or not.

      1.  But see, painting all people of religious conviction as being the same — irrational, violent, etc — is not extremism, it’s rationality.  I mean, god forbid we judge people individually by their actions, instead of taking an event, and applying it to a whole group of people…

        1. In terms of influences on human behavior, it’s not so clear-cut that the “rational” view is to see religion as primarily negative (though I would see it as rational to say it’s mainly negative in terms of its influence on people’s tendency to think skeptically or accept scientific evidence). See the article at,0 for a case that religion does have plenty of power to increase cooperation between people and groups, for example.

          1.  First, I was being sarcastic… should have used sarcasm quotes.

            Second, while not all rationalists see religion as primarily negative, there seem to be quite a few vocal atheist making that argument as of late. They don’t want to see shades of gray and they throw the complexity of people’s actually lives out with the bathwater. It’s absolutely disheartening to see. I guess I was largely address the fact that so many comments refuse to see the context of these events that are under discussion and to maybe, just maybe, admit that it’s not just religious extremism that is at work in these protests/riots/killings.

      2.  I agree with the sentiment that “religion is a cancer” is essentially a fundamentalist position, but I disagree with the false equivalence between afterlife, string theory, “multiple realities”*, and alien visitations. 

        *Do you mean the completely rigorous and scientific “many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics”?  Or do you mean the scientific multiverse theories that, while unproven and not yet rigorous, are nonetheless based on well-supported experimental evidence and physical theory?  Or do you mean science-fiction style parallel worlds?  The last one might have some equivalence with the afterlife, but the first two have a lot more going for them in terms of plausibility.

        1. I would propose that dogmatic belief in anything is a cancer that affects all humanity in some way or another. Be it a belief in gods, afterlife, or that one political party or ethnic group is superior to another. 

          Religion is often intertwined with the idea that dogma is a virtue.

      3. …I don’t think anyone who understands string theory “believes in” string theory. They may think it is a good theory that adequately explains a collection of data, but thinking that a theory shows promise is not the same as religious belief. 

        Remember, “theory” and “hypothesis”, despite their misuse by much of the public, are words with very different meanings.

    3. Well, there is in fact a difference between the two if you think of one of the main characteristics of being cancerous is having to spread.

      Judaism is very much against proselytizing and will actively discourage converts unless they prove themselves serious. There are no Jewish missionaries or forced conversions to Judaism. Converting away from Judaism is frowned upon, but you’re not going to be shunned. Frankly, it is amazing Judaism hasn’t died out though today, in the US at least, most Jews are secular, so I suppose in a sense it has.

      Islam (and Christianity) are quite the opposite. Conversion of infidels is openly encouraged, and in fact, considered one’s duty. Forced conversions have happened throughout history and still happen today. Killing of converts to other religions or heaven forbid, atheism, still happens today.

      (Please don’t take this to mean I approve of the video. I can’t even bring myself to watch the trailer.)

      1. First, although I agree Judaism is not a proselytizing religion, this fact did not stop people from converting to Judaism.  It happens, even if it’s not actively encouraged. And I think that shunning of those who leave the faith does happen in certain Jewish sects (is that the right word here?). You might not be shunned in the conservative or reform versions of Judaism, but what about the much more orthodox sects in places like New York/Jersey or in Israel.  I’d imagine that leaving that faith means losing your family. How is that not shunning.

        Second, the argument about forced conversion in Islam is overwrought.  Did it happen, yes, but there is also evidence that empires, such as the ottomans would crack down on their agents who stepped over the line and forced say Balkan peasants to convert, because that was cutting into their cash cows.  If the ottomans had been forcefully converting people during their time on the Balkan peninsula, I doubt there would be such a strong Christian presence in the region now.  Overall, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the conversion of the Middle East to Islam did not happen over night, but rather while they had secured the region militarily pretty rapidly, the actually conversion took much longer (a century or so) and as such might not have just been by the sword, or by coercion (though we can’t completely rule that out in some cases). The reasons for conversion amongst the people of the Mid-East were likely complex and varied. And again, there are no small number of Arab Christians and Jews in the region, so we should keep that in mind.

        Last, I think several have made the point that this is not just about a religious slight, but about a much more than that.  See, for example, this article posted not 2 days ago on this very blog:

        Sure people might be really pissed about this dumb movie.  But there seems to be much more happening too.

      2. The reason Judaism hasn’t died out in America is there are still Jewish females in America.  It has one of those silly “if your mother is Jewish, you’re Jewish” things in the religion, regardless of what your actual beliefs are.  That, sadly, is why Jews in general are seen as an ethnic group historically, rather than just a belief system.

  6. I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with an Egyptian friend of mine today (who thought the protests were nonsense, even if the movie is dumb), and my main point to him has been that  I think we need to maybe assume that there is much more going on here than just people pissed off about insults to their prophet?  The situation in both places are constantly evolving.  Labor unrest continues in Egypt for example, and this seems to provide a nice distraction (the film has been out since July, and people are just now noticing it – who uploaded it?). And I’m not convinced that the victory of the Islamist parties are unconnected to mechanations of the Saudis trying to assert their authority around the world via relgion (they did the same in places like Kosova).  There have been conflicting reports on how the victims died – NPR and Al-Jazeera are reporting it as smoke inhalation from a fire that was started by protesters/embassy stormers, while others are reporting it was a rocket attack…  I feel very skeptical of everything right now, so you’ll have to forgive me.  I just think we need to take events and how they are reported with something of a grain of salt, especially when they tend to reinforce this master narrative that we’re all supposed to believe in now – that there is a clash of civilizations on.

    I also want to note here that while this was happening that nearly 300 people died in Pakistan in a “triangle shirt waste” like fire. The article says nothing about who the factory was owned by or who they exported their wares to…

    But clearly, they hate us for our freedoms and our stupid movies.

    I know everyone really likes the whole “religious people are irrational and do irrational things” and I agree.  But there is so much more going on in the world that have nothing to do with religion and which may motivate people in ways religion can’t or doesn’t…  I’m not going out of my way to insult anyone, but this is just my $.02 of the situation overall….

    1. Agreed. Many news reports, at this time, are very cautious about what the real story is. The definitive summary of BB’s report is a bit surprising to me, and may even be a bit reckless.

      At the same time, once the world finishes spinning the story, I’m sure it will still not be 100% accurate. Never is.

    2. You hit the nail on the head. Saying “crazy Aye-rahbs killed people because of a movie” fits into the general narrative better than explaining an enumerably faceted, thousand-year conflict every time Middle East violence sparks up.

      1.  Indeed, Westerners ability to dismiss all political acts as purely motivated by “religion” and uncolored by other grievances is kinda religious itself…

  7. Seriously, you are accepting the argument that this video should be treated as ‘incitement to violence’?  Who cares about this video at all, it is just the excuse of the day.  I’m sure if we looked we could find dozens of blog posts, cartoons, speeches, songs, and other videos, just in the last few weeks, just in the US alone, that ‘insult Mohammad’.  It’s a big country, with a non-trivial number of hard core anti-Muslim racists.

    Therefore, I refuse to credit in any way that this particular video was:
    – at fault
    – responsible
    – the cause
    – the inspiration

    for these attacks.  No, this video is the EXCUSE, nothing more.  Is it racist, objectionable, vile? Absolutely. But allowing the leaders of these attacks and riots to assign blame to this video, to endorse that message, is precisely as absurd as writing an article highlighting the lyrics of Helter Skelter after Charles Manson’s killings, or to have run a post titled “Bio of Actress Jodi Foster, Inspiration for Assassination Attempt on Ronald Reagan.”

          1. Good question. Someone certainly calling himself Sam Bacile, but as people are searching they are not finding anyone prior to this who had that name. This story is not over.

          2. Sorry… reply button cut off…  :-(

            How do you know he’s not a person, btw?  Citation, please? And agreed. There is lots more going on then we are currently privy to.

          3. If I were “Sam Bacile” I would use a pseudonym when releasing something like this movie. He’s apparently from Israel which means he probably has family there. He certainly believes that Muslims are capable of killing people who criticize their religion (and there are at least a few who are). He may be an idiot for making this stupid movie and an even bigger idiot for releasing it, but he’s not suicidally stupid enough to do so under his real name. Not like someone won’t figure it out anyway though. Money always leaves a trail.

      1. Coptics and muslims did actually cooperate pretty heavily during the early stages of the revolution, if you’ll remember.

        I don’t know the current state of play, though.

        1.  I think the military and Morsi have made a deal, and allowed the sort of violence against Christians to go forward because then the people in power can get back to doing what they do best – stealing everyone else’s money.  Keep in mind that there is still labor unrest going on across Egypt. I think if Morsi had a coup against the military, it’s because they let him has his coup against the military, in an at least cosmetic way in order to stabilize the country, alienate the Islamists from the liberals and get back to good old repression… 

  8. Blaming Sam Bacile for the attacks is as outrageous as blaming the victim for a sexual attack.

    If you want to curtail your freedoms in order to placate a bunch of murderous criminals half way around the planet, go ahead and hold your tongue.  But the function of the U.S. government is to protect the rights of its citizens.  And those rights include the right of free expression, even if it is asinine.

    This is not something that is subject to compromise.

    1. It seems clear that he was/is trying to unapologetically incite hatred and violence, and he succeeded.  I *totally* blame this prick.

    2.  No. This is not the same thing as victim blaming. This guy knew what he was making, he made it as reprehensible as humanely possible, and he knew it would provoke a major reaction in some quarters.  He knew what he was doing!  Next you’ll be telling us that he is the Rosa Parks of bad, insulting movies…

      And in case you haven’t noticed, our rights have been deeply compromised, not by Muslims, not by Bin Laden, by our own fucking government. They could have dealt with 9/11 by police work.  They could have tracked the fuckers that planned the event down and put them on trial.  They could have altered our foreign policy that supported democratic movements instead of suppressing them. They could have curtailed their imperial exploits.  They could have passed regulatory laws on American corporations that operate internationally who consistently act in an exploitative manner towards their slaves/employees in other countries (at times ones that were in Muslim majority countries)… they did NONE of those things.  They curtailed our freedoms.

    3. This resembles the old question of whether freedom of speech includes the freedom to shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.

      Yes, Mr Bacile should have the freedom to say what he thinks. But we know now that when you deliberately set out to provoke religious fundamentalists, then people will die as a result. If you’re a filmmaker in California, then you also know that it probably won’t be you.

      Mr Bacile chose to exercise his right of free speech knowing full well that it would cost other people their lives. He didn’t kill them – other violent idiots did – but I don’t think you can argue that he bears no responsibility for his actions. Blame isn’t a zero-sum game.

      1.  This is nothing like that simply because of this: you’re treating those who actually performed this act as children, incapable of making their own decisions.

        Yes, it’s a reprehensible video, but people are responsible for their own actions, both good and bad, and not the actions of others. Otherwise, you’d be making the point that these people just can’t control themselves, so *obviously* that’s why it happened.

      2. I’m gonna file this film under “shouldn’t have done it, also shouldn’t have been legally barred from doing it.”

    4. The first amendment prevents US legislatures from enacting legislation which restricts freedom of expression.
      At the time it was enacted did it legitmate the importing of seditious, inflammatory material into foreign jurisdictions?
      Just wondering.

    5. False equivalence: if you were to make a movie of President Obama raping children, you would be in court for libel and slander quicker than you can say Mitt Romney. Freedom of speech is not absolute even in the USA.

      1. …if you were to make a movie of President Obama raping children, you would be in court for libel and slander quicker than you can say Mitt Romney.

        This film sounds like a complete piece of garbage but your analogy doesn’t really work—U.S. law doesn’t allow a long-dead person to sue for libel. I could make a movie that portrayed Abraham Lincoln or Leonardo Da Vinci or Jesus of Nazareth as mass-murdering pedophile cannibals and still be protected by the 1st Amendment. 

  9. So… it’s a complete coincidence that:
    1) The person claiming to have directed this has never made any sort of movie before.
    2) It was made with $5 million from anonymous investors.
    3) It was translated into Arabic and pushed onto Egyptian TV by anonymous people.
    4) It’s being promoted heavily by Terry Jones, the “Qu’ran burning” pastor, who claims to have nothing to do with making the movie.
    5) This is all happening just in time for 9/11, and just after Romney started making calls for pre-emptive war against Iran.

    1. Someone intentionally doing this to provoke conflict is as crazy as a country being attacked and then having a faction in control cooking intelligence and deluding themselves and the entire nation (and Poland!) into then attacking the wrong country.  So just because it sounds crazy and evil for someone to behave this way is sadly not a reason to dismiss it. 

    2. Also — is it coincidence that Romney pre-emptively accused Obama of “sympathizing with the enemy” before the attack actually happened?

        1. Child labor is the only way to get a t-shirt?  Keeping the Congo in a constant state of chaos is necessary so we can get those trace minerals for shiny new iphones? We can never come up with an alternative system of running stuff other than oil/coal? Really? Where does that stop?  Oh, I need a diamond for an engagment ring, so let’s chop that kids hand right off.  Fuck him.  He doesn’t need to have a second hand.

          At what point does “progress” become “rape and pillage” on a grand scale? Or does it not matter where we get resources from because we all got to wear cheap clothes, get places, and keep in touch all the time via our cellphones. What did Fredrick Jameson say (I think it was him), that we can’t imagine any other system other than capitalism? Zizek quotes him or someone saying something like that… 

          I’m not trying to be bitchy or lay blame. I just think that these are questions we should all wrestle with much harder and not just be like – “well, that’s the way things are, and have been all my life, who am I to question it?”

  10. Being a diplomat has to be the ultimate thankless task these days. You can spend a lifetime learning a culture, getting to know people, making friends, doing deals, advancing by baby steps, and then one dipshit like Sam Bacile or Terry Jones can blow up everything you’ve accomplished in a minute and a half.

    1. Yeah… you can spend years backing dictators that torture, rape, and murder their own people, only to have the whole thing fall apart and have peasants scaling the walls, threatening your best china. It’s awful!

  11. Such fascinating mob logic. Hold an entire country responsible for the actions of one person (who isn’t even American by the sound of it). It’s like the equivalent of the U.S. nuking all of Saudi Arabia and turning it into a parking lot because Osama bin Laden was Saudi Arabian.

        1. Directly and indirectly causing the deaths of over a million people who had done nothing to you (Iraqis) generally is a bad thing. It’s an atrocity.

  12. HOW did this cost five million to make?  It seems like a bunch of investors got taken by a Producers style scam.

  13. A crappy artist is a crappy artist.  A murderous animal is a murderous animal. 

    Under no circumstance is crappy art an acceptable excuse for being a murderous animal, and being a murderous animal is never “caused” by crappy art.  Upbringing, culture, religion, brain damage, living conditions, prior violent attack on self or loved ones, or just innate qualities of being a murderous animal can receive blame for “causing” a murderous animal to be such, but not crappy art.

    For all the hatred I might hold in my heart, I’m not out there killing anti-gay anti-women anti-freedom activists, etc… even if they could manage to put up the most offensive artwork EVAR, I still wouldn’t be out there killing them.  Because I’m not a murderous animal.  And if I was, their crappy art would not be acceptable to label as the “cause.”

    1. “art”

      I see what you did there. I remember when I lived down South and a white power group blanketed our high school parking lot with “art” fliers…

      1.  Or when they hung out in the “arty” robes down next to the railroad tracks by my childhood neighborhood.  Man, those guys were quite “arty”, what with their pointy hats and white robes…  :-/

    2. I’m not out there killing anti-gay anti-women anti-freedom activists..

      Would you kill them if you thought they were a threat to your life, lifestyle, property or family?  Just wondering, not trying to say the Libyan murders were anything like that.  I don’t know the details, and anyway I agree with your base premises and point.

      Quakers won’t kill anybody, no matter what the provocation, and some people will kill anybody they can get away with killing, but most of us (regardless of what we may say in public) will only kill when we can convince ourselves that a cause is righteous or just.  Defensive killing is the easiest to justify on those grounds, so making people think they are being threatened is the easiest way to get them to kill for you.   We in the USA spend billions to convince each other that being a US soldier is a righteous act, because soldiers “defend freedom” and “freedom isn’t free” and “our defenders are heroes” et cetera.  That way we can recruit a steady supply of young men that our politicians can send out to kill brown people in foreign lands for totally amoral purposes.  We didn’t invade Iraq to keep Texas oil prices high, we did it for the defense of Freedom.  Substitute “Islam” or “Zion” for “Freedom” and it still works the same way.  There’s always some politician mouthing words he doesn’t believe in behind the curtain.

  14. so the solution is….  x = BT/man ?

    Extra credit is so damn confusing when your algebra teacher is a big fan of Glenn Beck.

  15. 2:17 – Zach Galifiankis?

    We’ve all been had, this is the Tariq and Emir Awesome Show, Allahu Akbar!

  16. While I understand the protestors are charged up about the film, don’t you think this anger really has more to do with US foreign policy?

    Both Libya and Egypt recently eliminated US backed dictators. In both countries, CIA agents aided the regime in torturing dissidents. Just because we did an about face on Gadaffi (and ditched Mubarak at the last moment to support his torturing, pro-American head of secret police) doesn’t fool anybody there.

    So while the film is being used in this way, it’s “the straw that broke the camels back.” To boil it down, there are a lot of very good reasons that people in Egypt and Libya would want to torch US embassies and kill diplomats who short years ago were involved in having them rounded up and murdered.Also notice the US embassies inability to defend the First Amendment. The empire is far more important now.

    1.  GAHHH….. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!  Also, labor unrest.  There is labor unrest in Egypt you guys.  Has been since the revolution.  It has not stopped.  Also divide and conquer. 

      Also, DAMAGE MANUAL!!!  Nice… 

  17. 3:52 – you are not wearing undergarments, cover yourself.

    the new wacky teen comedy – Arabian Pie

  18. Sad thing is that now the GOP/Romney campaign will be braying for a stupid response trying to get some play out of “Obama weak on defense” and the administration will probably oblige given the coming election…

  19. A Jewish film, promoted by Christians, rioted over by Muslims. It’s like three major religions conspired to make their religions look fucked up and awful.

    1. If you look later on in the thread, the AP reporter who spoke to “Sam Bacile” claimed he sounded Egyptian, and “Bacile” declined to answer, the consultant for the film and one of the actresses said he sounded middle eastern and Arabic respectively, but not Israeli.  There are some Egyptian Jews, but less than a 100 living there.  It’s possible he’s an expat, but if he lied about being Israeli, it’s likely to believe he lied about being Jewish.  Not debating that there are some awful Jewish fundamentalists, but I don’t think this was a Jewish film. 

  20. Sorry this is sort of aside from your main point, but according to the Libyans (both government/diplomatic and those actually on the ground in Benghazi) the attack was NOT made by people protesting the film.

    It appears that a radical terrorist gang used the COVER of a protest to stage this attack.  At least, that’s the Libyan’s story both official and eyewitness.  Yes, there was a protest, but the protesters were unarmed.   Fingers are being pointed at the Ansar al-Sharia brigade, which is said to be an Islamic fundamentalist armed group.

    These reports were on the BBC News Hour that was broadcast this AM (9/12) but the BBC Web site has a story up in which the group is claiming it was not responsible.

    1. Were they just waiting around for there to be a protest? Or, I wonder, if they had a little help getting a protest to occur… it seems very fortuitous that a protest would break out when the Ambassador was there so they could implement their attack plan.

      Right now, I don’t trust much of any explanation. The truth is being obscured.

      1. According to the people from Benghazi that the BBC broadcast, these guys are one of several armed gangs that the government has failed to get under control – their ambassador to the UK agreed that this was a major failing of the government. Whether they staged the attack or saw an opportunity and took it is probably something we won’t know for a long time,  if ever. The point is that both in Egypt and also in Libya the protesters themselves were not murderous, whatever else you can say about them.

        (again, caveat that this is still just some people from that city talking about what they saw and the group itself is apparently denying responsibility. That could be because they would rather not have a shit-ton of cruise missiles up their yin-yangs. As this is loony… err election season in the US I think that the Administration is going to feel it has to respond by blowing something up.)

  21. How in the F did that cost $5 million?   What a complete and utter piece of shit.   Forget all the uproar, who thought this was good?  

    1. Mitt Romney, by the sounds of it?

      As for the $5 million, those green screen deserts aren’t going to set themselves up in that high school gymnasium, you know.

  22. Shame on you, BoingBoing. You are conflating two separate occurances.

    As of this moment, the perpetrators of the shooting are UNKNOWN, as are their motives. Yes, there has been local rioting in response to the film mentioned, but there is absolutely no hard evidence to suggest a connection between those riots and this particular attack. For all anyone knows, the chaos of the riots may simply have provided convenient cover for the attack, or even have been entirely coincidental.

    Hate speech is rubbish, but so is speculatively tying together two events which may have nothing to do with each just to villify the one via connection to the other. It’s just as lazy and unreasonable as conflating Islam with Terrorism.

  23. I saw the movie.  It’s not even a parody.  It’s just a (bad) hatchet job.  How do they get money to produce this? What were they trying to achieve? To be one, collective dick?

    But the real question is, how do peasants in Libya and Egypt find out about this bad hatchet job?  Who is motivating the rioters?  It’s hard to believe this all happened by itself. Someone is attempting a power play.

    Also, don’t they remember it was the US + NATO that helped them get rid of Qaddafi?

    1. They got money to produce it because someone would benefit off the making of it and the reaction it would get (arms dealers, political leaders, people looking for excuses to call brown people uncivilized in the discourse, etc).

      Also, the riot was in Cairo in Egypt.  I’m pretty sure those weren’t fellahin, but middle/lower middle class young men with no job prospects. At least some of them are soccer hooligans, actually. Peasants have more important things to do than riot over a movie.

      Sure, but we had begun propping him up before that too… See the torture article on BB a couple days ago:

  24. I feel like rioting just because the compositing, acting, editing, direction & sound are so horrible let alone the subject matter.

  25. Seems like if you take all the money, you express your xenophobia by making crappy art; if you have all the money taken from you, you express your xenophobia by killing people. 

    It’s pretty straightforward as far as I can tell.

    Also, the above commenter is probably correct, this was most likely an armed group using a public protest to get away with an attack (in richer, more comfortable countries this is bandana’d malcontents with rocks, in poorer countries where people have less to lose, this is militia members with legitimate weapons). That sort of thing happens all the time.

    In any case, they’re burning down US embassies because we’ve treated them so badly over the last 90 years, the film is basically incidental, it’s something for the peaceful protesters to put on their posters (non-peaceful protesters don’t bring posters). Americans respond exactly the same way. Saddam got off the ranch on OPEC production capacity and it pissed us (and the Saudis) off, so we burned him down.

    Anyone who thinks that this is an overreaction is missing the big picture. If you allow us into your country, we usually take all your stuff and refashion your government to suit our needs. We’re going to need a lot of years of good behavior before the urge to burn down our embassies subsides in the countries we’ve ransacked.

    1.  People just don’t’ want to deal with the big picture, and what that means about modern society, that’s what I think (and I say so up thread to another commenter). 

      When we burn shit down, of course, it means much more mayhem than just a few people dead or a flag or building burned down. 

    2. “Saddam got off the ranch on OPEC production capacity and it pissed us …”

      You conveniently left out the using chemical weapons to kill his own people… and the nuclear weapons program… and so many other things. C’mon… at least acknowledge that there a LOT more to it.

      1. We sold him those chemical weapons, why would we invade his country for using them?

        Would you like a list of other leaders who’ve killed more of their own people but were not invaded by the US? It’s a very large list… so something set Iraq apart and brought it to the top of the list.

        Nuclear weapons? Hmm… Israel, the DPRK and Pakistan all have clandestine weapons programs that actually exist, and yet they weren’t invaded… Again, what set Iraq apart? To be clear, we didn’t go in to take the oil, we went in because Iraq wasn’t taking it’s responsibilities as a member of OPEC seriously enough, which was causing too much volatility in the oil markets (and not coincidentally, really pissing off Saudi Aramco).

        The weapons that Don Rumsfeld sold to Saddam in the 80’s were the carrot to get his regime in line with OPEC’s operating procedures. The sanctions and the second US invasion was the stick for not getting in line (Desert Storm was a response to Saddam’s reaction to learning that Kuwait was pumping Iraqi oil underground across their border, which was probably true).

        We don’t invade and attempt to rebuild nations simply because they are harming their citizens and we damn sure don’t invade countries with nuclear weapons. We invade countries because it’s in our strategic interest, which for the past 60 years has been expressed primarily in economic terms.

      2. He didn’t do anything that our allies in the region don’t also do, so your point is meaningless.

        1. Not to be rude, but aren’t you being a little overzealous in sanitizing this board? Saying that you find something pinheaded isn’t really cause for deletion, is it? Besides, I had a good response:

          Iraq used mustard gas on the Iranians (1980-81?) and we rewarded them with military aid shortly thereafter (83?).  Libya had tons (literally) of gas when we normalized relations with them 2003, which were not disposed of and are now almost certainly no longer accounted for.Israel and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons.

          So there are your facts. No pin-heads here.

          1. I feel quite comfortable getting rid of a commenter who accused you of wanting Americans to be murdered because you tried to add political context instead of yelling jingoistic slogans.

          2. In response to Antinous, below:

            I guess that’s fair enough. 

            It’s just that the set of people who are sympathetic to that kind of language are not an extreme minority, but a large swath of the US (entire branches of my family included) which is what gave me pause when I saw it go away. 

            I’m more than willing to suffer verbal slings and arrows, but if we are drawing the line at civility, I suppose that would be across it.

  26. After watching the trailer I see the problem.  Neither Mohammed nor any of his contemporaries cast shadows–they are therefore vampires.

      1. He’s actually Day man
        Fighter of the Night man
        Champion of the sun
        He’s a master of karate and friendship…for everyone

  27. Oh nice. I was running out of Troma movies to watch while messed up on far too much tasty beer, and one can only watch Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town so many times. 

    Muhammad is a spoiled white slacker with Larry the Cable Guy for one of his lackeys? Amazing.There’s no way anyone spent $5 million on this pile o’ frumunda on film.

  28. Hey the guy who plays the guard about 3 minutes in is Tim Dax who starred in this Troma released movie called Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical. Weird world, right?

    1.  Sadly, all sectors of the economy have been hard hit, including low budget films.  People take work where they can, even if they have slum from making respectable low-fi fare to making incendiary hate films with no standards….  Has Brad Pitt been going around saying that the days of actors being paid millions for films coming to an end?

      1. “On the Media” tweeted earlier that the actors didn’t know what the true message was and that much of the dialogue was later overdubbed. Seems they were somewhat deceived by these creeps.

        *edit* I see another user pointed that out.

  29. The title of this article is less than ideal. It sounds as if you’re blaming the makers of some crappy movie/trailer for the deaths rather than the people who are to blame: terrorists. Does South Park have to make another episode about blaming the appropriate people for terrorist acts and the dangers of censoring free speech?

    1. If you, me or Trey Parker were born in a country where the secret police come for our friends and relatives, we would be sitting here rationalizing our support of burning down the consulate buildings of any country that helped them to do it. 

      It’s cute to say that everyone who commits violence is simply wrong and that they alone are responsible for their actions, but that’s the primary school perspective. Only you can prevent forest fires… Yeah you, a smart controlled burn policy and sufficient funding for the DNR to execute it, good weather, etc… Turns out that it’s really easy to take the individual responsibility argument way too far.

      The point here is that this film is not the reason the ambassador was killed. People can go on making fun of Muhammad until the end of time, that’s not what’s causing the attacks. The attacks would not lessen if rich nations stopped making fun of Muhammad, they wouldn’t even stop if rich nations ate Halal and women wore veils. Only a tiny fraction of attacks on western targets are meaningfully related to those things. 

      It’s about sovereignty, self-determination, economic justice and human rights abuses. You get on the right side of those battles and the attacks will be consistently and vehemently condemned by the common man. 

      People are their responsible for their own actions, but they’re not the only responsible party. If people are hungry and being badly beaten by people who look like you, they’re more likely to kill you if you get between them and what they need survive. Does it mean they shouldn’t face judgement? No. Does it mean that if you want the murders to stop the righteous thing to do is to campaign for more individual responsibility from people who are getting beaten? I think you can see where this is going.

  30. I think that this says a lot more about the people who can so easily picture hordes of raging, mouth-foaming brown Muslims than it does about Egypt & Libya.

  31. Some weird twists on this story:

    –apparently, few if any of the actors realized they were doing a story about Muhammad–they were given a different script about life in ancient Egypt or something, and then the Islam-specific dialogue was dubbed in later. See here.

    –The claim that Sam Bacile is an Israeli Jew, and that the film had Israeli backers, is probably a lie. See here.

  32. Xeni, your post is conflating two people:  J. Christopher Williams, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and Sean Smith, an officer in the U.S. Foreign Service stationed at the consulate.  Sean Smith was the EVE player and SA mod.

  33. C’mon, people! 5 million!!! Bacile is Max Bialystock and this is his “Springtime for Hitler”. Should be the same scheme – look for the old ladies. And the poor innocent Libyans were bought so cheaply.

  34. Apparently you don’t need to show any effort to blaspheme Islam. This trailer is so terrible that it’s the film equivalent of my drawing a stick figure with an arrow labeled “Muhammad” pointing to it. 

  35. I’m sure that the Coptic Christians living in Egypt are just thrilled with this guy’s efforts on their behalf.  He should really go to Cairo to meet his fans.

  36. Honestly, there have been mainstream, massive-budget hollywood blockbusters that have protrayed the Jews as downright demonic.  Making Mohammed look a little like a dick is absolutely nothing, especially when compared to other historical conquerors.

    If your first response after seeing this is to want to go and kill a US diplomat, then you might want to gravely reconsider your own theology.  Does your religion make you a happier, better adjusted, socially productive member of society?, or are you just using it as an excuse to not have to think for yourself?

    Honestly, Imperialism is a much better reason to be pissed off at the States, or the plutocracy, or the hypocracy, or the vapid consumerism… okay, there are a lot of reasons, but any time you murder because of your religion, more people are going to think your religion is about nothing but violence.

  37. what’s really bizarre to me is why a mob would go on a murderous rampage over one video when there is so much other vile hateful stuff on the internets.  There has to be some sort of greater context for the attack – it can’t just be the video.  The way this story is being portrayed makes the mob look like a bunch of ignorant morons.

  38. This is an awful movie, but the movie wasn’t the point. 
    People who were in the the movie thought they were supporting one agenda, but it was edited to support another. Probably some of the people who promoted the movie promoted it because they were told it supported that first, edited out, agenda.The trailer sucks so bad it’s hard to even pay attention to what is being said in it, so in order to get the right targets this upset it had to be stuck right in front of them.So the intent was to send a signal with a certain voltage down a set of nerves to see which nerves would cause what reaction, and now they’ve traced the circuit they wanted to trace. If they want to disable the circuit, they know who it is comprised of. If they want to reactivate the circuit with a stronger voltage, they will do that. The people murdered were collateral damage in this experiment.Who is “they”? Dunno, but they are someone who can put together millions of dollars to make a super shitty movie that clearly had no hope of generating anywhere near that return in revenue.

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